On the first Sunday of December we turned on the town lights.
The Market Square is transformed by the illuminations. In these darkest days of winter light fills the town – from the civic Christmas tree to the many illuminated houses.
I sometimes wish the town could be illuminated like this all year.
But we don’t need the festival lights in summer. It is only when it is dark that we need light.
Light is a symbol of hope (the light at the end of the tunnel). It may be a dark winter now but we hope for summer.
For many this past year has been a dark year – think of Grenfell Tower, for example. The Christmas story is set in a dark world of fear and oppression – military peacekeepers patrolled the streets of Jerusalem and up-risings were frequent.
The birth of Jesus brings the light of hope to a troubled world.
The Christmas message speaks of joy, peace, love and hope.
If we dig deeper we also find a message of justice and freedom from oppression.
The main Bible reading for Christmas does not speak of shepherds or angels.
It tells us the Word (Jesus) became one of us and dwelt among us and that we have seen his light.
It goes on to say this light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot extinguish it. This is a message of hope for all.
So let the lights burn around the town in these dark nights to remind us of the hope of a better world made possible because God is with us.